Robin Williams
American actor and comedian
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. He has also won two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy Awards.
Biography
Robin Williams's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Robin Williams from around the web
Dylan Brody on His New Comedy Special
Huffington Post - 8 days
"Do you want insight or do you want funny?" Dylan Brody asked at the beginning of our conversation. His new stand-up comedy special is filled with both. Brody began as a "machine gun comic," firing off an average of four laugh lines per minute. He wrote for Jay Leno, opened for David Sedaris, and was dubbed "brilliant" by Robin Williams. Now Brody is more of a storyteller, a self-described "artful anecdotalist." "Dylan Brody's Driving Hollywood," premiering February 14, 2017 on NextUPComedy, is a very funny and beautifully constructed series of autobiographical tales ranging from his wildly ambitious second grade theatrical production to discussing collective nouns in a phone call with his mother, to a hopeful drive to meet with someone who could give him a career boost. He weaves them together so that by the end they are all connected and they illuminate each other. Brody said he began "reverse engineering" jokes as a child, watching George Carlin on television and later h ...
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Huffington Post article
What's So Funny?
Huffington Post - about 1 month
The words "Cook in your underwear" aren't that funny, but in the context of a speech I gave to the Idaho Association of School Administrators, the phrase prompted 500 people to spontaneously laugh out loud. For a speaker and an incorrigible clown, it's a delightful feeling to say a few words that cause people to explode with laughter. That's SO much better than instigating an audience to throw objects, fall asleep, play on their cell phones, or slink out the back door. This link contains a brief snippet of my talk and includes my earnest words of wisdom and ends with the admonishment: "Want perfect children? Don't have any." That simple expression prompted a delightful eruption of laughs that signaled a message to my brain: "Remember this line. I don't know why, but it worked." We are born with the ability to laugh, and babies exhibit the tendency at about four months of age. Audible joy is part of the human vocabulary, and all members of the human species understand the lang ...
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Huffington Post article
What's the Best Number of Children to Have? A Psychologist Weighs In
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Which is better for the family: one child, two children or more? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. Answer by Mike Leary, Psychotherapist in private practice, Individual-Marital-Parenting-A&D, on Quora: Wisdom - that which is acquired through experience. First, my credentials: Original family--five kids. I'm number two, all separated by three years. I also have two half-siblings, one I never met and he never knew he was my dad's son. First marriage--two girls five years apart. Second marriage-- four step-children. Girl, boy, girl, boy born all within five years. Grand kids and great grand kids. Been a marriage and family therapist for thirty-five years and have seen thousands intimately from a single child to families with fourteen children. Sometimes they were twins or adopted. Initiated with my wife the state Step-Parenting Association and r ...
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Huffington Post article
What I Would Have Said To My Friend Who Died By Suicide
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Written by Laura Smith September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. I must admit, I never thought too much about needing a month for prevention before. I realize now this thought process selfishly was because suicide wasn’t something that personally affected me. That was, until January 18, 2016. My good friend of 21 years died by suicide. I hope you noticed I didn’t say “committed suicide.” The Sarah I knew would never have “committed suicide,” left behind her two young sons and a life full of promise and opportunity. Saying she “committed” suicide is like saying you intentionally went into a diabetic shock from lack of insulin. It’s taboo to say your brain, another organ in your body which is susceptible to disease or illness, is sick. That’s what I want to change. I said “died by suicide” because my friend had a mental illness.  No one seems to care if you have a mental illness in this country. They call you names like “crazy” or “addict,” and they never look beyond t ...
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Huffington Post article
Drug being tested for Lewy body dementia
CBS News - 3 months
Less well known than Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia causes memory loss, hallucinations and other symptoms in about 1.5 million Americans, including the late Robin Williams. Now researchers are testing the first drug that could help. Stephanie Stahl reports.
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CBS News article
Aisle View: The Shadow of R. Williams
Huffington Post - 3 months
Jason Sudeikis in Dead Poets Society Photo: Joan Marcus John Doyle and the Classic Stage Company get much of Dead Poets Society--adapted by Tom Schulman from his 1989 screenplay--right, and we'll discuss that below. But they run smack dab into what we might as well call the Holly Golightly Curse: if you cannot expand on an existing property's power/charm/magic, let alone replicate it, you might just as well have stopped before you started. A significant audience will automatically be attracted by the title--Robin Williams, hey-I-loved-that-movie--but if you can't enhance the experience, they'll turn on you and grumble I should have just Netflixed it. This is the one where a junior class at a top-ranked prep school--circa 1959--have their little overachieving world shaken up by the arrival of charismatic English teacher John Keating (Jason Sudeikis), who commands them to tear pages out of the mandated poetry textbook and live the poetry instead. "Gather ye rosebuds whi ...
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Huffington Post article
Dana Carvey's Impression Of Trump Starting World War III Is Entirely Too Accurate
Huffington Post - 4 months
Alec Baldwin has some competition for the best Donald Trump impression.  Dana Carvey showed off his incredible impersonation of the Republican presidential candidate during a Thursday stop on “The Howard Stern Show.” The former “SNL” star is promoting his new Netflix special, “Straight White Male, 60.”  With a little prodding from Stern, Carvey fired off 17 rapid fire “micro-impressions” of everyone from Michael Caine as a toddler to Robin Williams and Bernie Sanders, but it was his Trump impression that was the best. Posing as Trump “selling” the American public on starting World War III, Carvey’s impression was eerily accurate.  “We had such a fabulous nuclear war, OK? Terrific, terrific,” the comedian said in all-too familiar tone while mimicking Trump’s tics and mannerisms. “Our bunkers are tremendous. Chinese bunkers? Total disasters.”  It’s all just too real. Hopefully Trump catches wind of Carvey’s impression, as it’ll likely have his tiny hands cur ...
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Huffington Post article
Robin Williams' widow on actor's struggle with Lewy body dementia
CBS News - 4 months
Beloved actor Robin Williams died in August 2014. Despite his larger-than-life spirit on screen, Williams was battling with Lewy body dementia. His wife, Susan Schneider Williams, wrote an editorial for the journal Neurology called "The terrorist inside my husband's brain." Susan joins "CBS This Morning" for her first TV interview since writing about Williams' health struggles.
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CBS News article
Shecky Trump
Huffington Post - 4 months
Last night's Al Smith dinner in NYC revealed the final piece of the puzzle about Donald Trump. He has no sense of humor. As a comedy writer by trade who has made his entire career out of making people laugh,  like most other comedy writers I take the job very seriously. There are all kinds of humor, both high and low and you pretty much get what you pay for.  There is no accounting for personal taste and I think what we gravitate towards, comedically reflects the things that made us laugh right out the gate. Growing up, my parent's comedy was mine too.  I grew up adoring Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, The Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, Bob and Ray, the parade of swaggering comics on Ed Sullivan like Alan King and Henny Youngman until I went my own way when youth co-opted comedy and suddenly comics were rock stars in arenas, from Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Garry Shandling to Dice Clay and man the first year of SNL- ...
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Huffington Post article
87 of Robin Williams' bikes are up for auction
CNN - 4 months
Robin Williams wasn't only one of the funniest people on the planet. He was was also an avid cyclist and advocate for people with disabilities.
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CNN article
Robin Williams' widow details actor's final months in wrenching essay
Fox News - 5 months
Robin Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, details the final months of the actor’s life in a wrenching personal essay titled “The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain,” published in the medical journal Neurology.
Article Link:
Fox News article
Robin Williams' Widow Susan Schneider Williams Pens Heartbreaking Essay About His Final Months - E! Online
Google News - 5 months
E! Online Robin Williams' Widow Susan Schneider Williams Pens Heartbreaking Essay About His Final Months E! Online It has been two years since Robin Williams died, and his widow, Susan Schneider Williams, continues to work to spread awareness of the brain disease that led to his suicide, Lewy Body Disease. In a heartbreaking essay titled "The Terrorist Inside My ... Robin Williams' widow calls illness 'the terrorist inside my husband's brain'USA TODAY Robin Williams' Widow Writes Heartbreaking Essay About His Last MonthsUs Weekly Robin Williams' widow pens essay about his brain disorder and final monthsEntertainment Weekly RollingStone.com -Huffington Post -Entertainment Tonight -ABC News all 104 news articles »
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Google News article
Robin Williams' Widow Writes A Devastating Account Of His Final Year
The Huffington Post - 5 months
Susan Schneider Williams, Robin Williams’ widow, wrote a devastating account of her husband’s final year of life before he died by suicide in 2014. An autopsy revealed that Robin Williams had Lewy body disease, an umbrella term used to describe both Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. In a letter this week addressed to neurologists, Susan described the “terrorist” who lived inside her husband’s brain and caused him to forget his movie lines, plagued him with delusions and paranoia, and engulfed him in fear, anxiety and depression. More...
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The Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Robin Williams
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2014
    Age 62
    On September 9, 2014, PBS aired a one-hour special devoted to his career, and on September 27, 2014, dozens of leading stars and celebrities held a tribute in San Francisco to celebrate his life and career.
    More Details Hide Details Shortly after his death, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior all aired the original Aladdin commercial-free over the course of a week, with a dedicated drawing of the genie at the end of each airing before the credits. Although Williams was first recognized as a stand-up comedian and television star, he later became known for acting in film roles of substance and serious drama. He was considered a "national treasure" by many in the entertainment industry and by the public. His on-stage energy and improvisational skill became a model for a new generation of stand-up comedians. Many comedians valued the way he worked highly personal issues into his comedy routines, especially his honesty about drug and alcohol addiction, along with depression. According to media scholar Derek A. Burrill, because of the openness with which Williams spoke about his own life, "probably the most important contribution he made to pop culture, across so many different media, was as Robin Williams the person."
    On television, during the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on August 25, 2014, Billy Crystal presented a tribute to Williams, referring to him as "the brightest star in our comedy galaxy".
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    The final autopsy report, released in November 2014, affirmed that Williams had committed suicide as initially described; neither alcohol nor illegal drugs were involved, while all prescription drugs present in his body were at "therapeutic" levels.
    More Details Hide Details The report also noted that Williams had been suffering "a recent increase in paranoia". An examination of his brain tissue revealed the presence of "diffuse Lewy body dementia", which had been misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease. Describing the disease as "the terrorist inside my husband's brain", his wife Susan Schneider stated that "however you look at it—the presence of Lewy bodies took his life." His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay on August 12. The death of Robin Williams was instant global news. The entertainment world, friends, and fans responded to his death through social and other media outlets. His wife, Susan Schneider, said: "I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken." His daughter Zelda Williams responded to his death by stating that the "world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence". U.S. President Barack Obama said of Williams: "He was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit."
    On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California at the age of 63.
    More Details Hide Details In the initial report released on August 12, the Marin County Sheriff's Office deputy coroner stated Williams had hanged himself with a belt and died from asphyxiation.
    In mid-2014, Williams admitted himself into the Hazelden Foundation Addiction Treatment Center in Lindstrom, Minnesota for treatment related to his alcoholism.
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    On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide by hanging at his home in Paradise Cay, California.
    More Details Hide Details His wife attributed his suicide to his struggle with Lewy body dementia.
  • 2013
    Age 61
    She described the early symptoms of his disease as beginning in October, 2013 and including a sudden and prolonged spike in fear and anxiety, constipation, urinary difficulty, heartburn, sleeplessness and insomnia, a poor sense of smell, stress, and a slight tremor in his left hand.
    More Details Hide Details Eventually, she said, he suffered from paranoia, delusions and looping, insomnia, memory, and high cortisol levels. According to Schneider, "Robin was losing his mind and he was aware of it... He kept saying, 'I just want to reboot my brain.'"
  • FIFTIES
  • 2011
    Age 59
    Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, on October 22, 2011, in St. Helena, California.
    More Details Hide Details The two lived at their house in Sea Cliff, San Francisco, California. Williams stated, "My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see them develop into these extraordinary human beings."
    He made his Broadway acting debut in Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 31, 2011.
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  • 2010
    Age 58
    Years afterward, Williams acknowledged his failure to maintain sobriety, but said he never returned to using cocaine, declaring in a 2010 interview:
    More Details Hide Details No. Cocaine – paranoid and impotent, what fun. There was no bit of me thinking, ooh, let's go back to that. Useless conversations until midnight, waking up at dawn feeling like a vampire on a day pass. No. In March 2009, he was hospitalized due to heart problems. He postponed his one-man tour for surgery to replace his aortic valve. The surgery was completed on March 13, 2009, at the Cleveland Clinic.
    In response to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, he donated all proceeds of his "Weapons of Self Destruction" Christchurch performance to help rebuild the New Zealand city.
    More Details Hide Details Half the proceeds were donated to the Red Cross and half to the mayoral building fund. Williams performed with the USO for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. For several years, Williams supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams had an addiction to cocaine. He was a casual friend of John Belushi, and the sudden death of Belushi, with the birth of his son Zak, prompted him to quit drugs and alcohol: "Was it a wake-up call? Oh yeah, on a huge level. The grand jury helped, too." Williams turned to exercise and cycling to help alleviate his depression shortly after Belushi's death, according to bicycle shop owner Tony Tom, Williams stated, "cycling saved my life." In 2003, he started drinking alcohol again while working on a film in Alaska. In 2006, he checked himself in to a substance-abuse rehabilitation center in Newberg, Oregon, saying he was an alcoholic.
  • 2008
    Age 56
    Williams was a member of the Episcopal Church. He described his denomination in a comedy routine as "Catholic Lite—same rituals, half the guilt." He has also described himself as an "honorary Jew," and on Israel's 60th Independence Day in 2008, he appeared in Times Square, along with several other celebrities to wish Israel a happy birthday.
    More Details Hide Details Williams was an enthusiast of both pen-and-paper role-playing games and video games. His daughter Zelda was named after the title character from The Legend of Zelda, a family favorite video game series, and he sometimes performed at consumer entertainment trade shows. His favorite books were the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, with his favorite book as a child being The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which he later shared with his children. Williams became a devoted cycling enthusiast, having taken up the sport partly as a substitute for drugs. Eventually, he accumulated a large bicycle collection of his own and became a fan of professional road cycling, often traveling to racing events, such as the Tour de France. In 1986, Williams teamed up with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal to found Comic Relief USA. This annual HBO television benefit devoted to the homeless has raised $80 million. Bob Zmuda, creator of Comic Relief, explains that Williams felt blessed because he came from a wealthy home, but wanted to do something to help those less fortunate. Williams made benefit appearances to support literacy and women's rights, along with appearing at benefits for veterans. He was a regular on the USO circuit, where he traveled to 13 countries and performed to approximately 100,000 troops. After his death, the USO thanked him "for all he did for the men and women of our armed forces."
    In March 2008, Garces filed for divorce from Williams, citing irreconcilable differences. Their divorce was finalized in 2010.
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  • 2002
    Age 50
    He headlined his own one-man show, Robin Williams: Live on Broadway, that played at the Broadway theatre in July 2002.
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    In the 2002 film Insomnia, Williams portrayed a writer/killer on the run from a sleep-deprived Los Angeles policeman (played by Al Pacino) in rural Alaska.
    More Details Hide Details Also in 2002, in the psychological thriller One Hour Photo, Williams played an emotionally disturbed photo development technician who becomes obsessed with a family for whom he has developed pictures for a long time. The last Williams movie released during his lifetime was The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, a film addressing the value of life. In it, Williams played Henry Altmann, a terminally ill man who reassesses his life and works to redeem himself.
  • FORTIES
  • 1992
    Age 40
    Broadway theaters in New York City dimmed their lights for one minute in his honor. Broadway's Aladdin cast honored Williams by having the audience join them in a sing-along of "Friend Like Me", an Oscar-nominated song originally sung by Williams in the 1992 film.
    More Details Hide Details Fans of Williams created makeshift memorials at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and at locations from his television and film career, such as the bench in Boston's Public Garden featured in Good Will Hunting; the Pacific Heights, San Francisco, home used in Mrs. Doubtfire; and the Boulder, Colorado, home used for Mork & Mindy. A book biography was reportedly in development, to be written by New York Times writer David Itzkoff. In addition, a tunnel on Highway 101 north of the Golden Gate Bridge was officially named the "Robin Williams Tunnel" on February 29, 2016.
    The film went on to become one of his most recognized and best loved roles, and was the highest-grossing film of 1992, winning numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Williams; his performance as the Genie led the way for other animated films to incorporate actors with more star power for voice acting roles.
    More Details Hide Details Williams continued to provide voices in other animated films, including FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), Robots (2005), Happy Feet (2006), and an uncredited vocal performance in Everyone's Hero (2006). He also voiced the holographic Dr. Know character in the live-action film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). He was the voice of The Timekeeper, a former attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort about a time-traveling robot who encounters Jules Verne and brings him to the future. In 2006, he starred in The Night Listener, a thriller about a radio show host who realizes that a child with whom he has developed a friendship may or may not exist; that year, he starred in five movies, including Man of the Year, was the Surprise Guest at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired on January 30, 2006.
    Terry Gilliam, who co-founded Monty Python and directed Williams in two of his films, The Fisher King and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), noted in 1992 that Williams had the ability to "go from manic to mad to tender and vulnerable," adding that to him Williams was "the most unique mind on the planet.
    More Details Hide Details There's nobody like him out there." During his career, he starred as a voice actor in several animated films. His voice role as the Genie in the animated, musical fantasy film, Aladdin (1992) was written specifically for Williams. The film's directors stated that they took a risk by writing the role, and successfully convinced him to take it. Through approximately 30 hours of tape, Williams was able to improvise much of his dialogue and impersonated dozens of celebrity voices, including Ed Sullivan, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Groucho Marx, Rodney Dangerfield, William F. Buckley, Peter Lorre, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arsenio Hall. At first, Williams refused to take the role since it was a Disney movie, and he did not want the studio profiting by selling toys and novelty items based on the movie. He accepted the role with certain conditions: "I'm doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don't want to sell anything — as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff."
  • THIRTIES
  • 1989
    Age 37
    On April 30, 1989, he married Marsha Garces, Zachary's nanny, who was pregnant with his child.
    More Details Hide Details They had two children, Zelda Rae Williams (born 1989) and Cody Alan Williams (born 1991).
    In 1989 Williams played a private school teacher in Dead Poets Society, which included a final, emotional scene which some critics said "inspired a generation" and became a part of pop culture.
    More Details Hide Details Looking over most of his filmography, one writer was "struck by the breadth" and radical diversity of most roles Williams portrayed.
  • 1988
    Age 36
    Williams and Velardi divorced in 1988.
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  • 1986
    Age 34
    Also in 1986, Williams co-hosted the 58th Academy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details Williams was also a regular guest on various talk shows, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman, on which he appeared 50 times. Letterman, who knew Williams for nearly 40 years, recalls seeing him first perform as a new comedian at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, where Letterman and other comedians had already been doing stand-up. "He came in like a hurricane," said Letterman, who said he then thought to himself, "Holy crap, there goes my chance in show business." His stand-up work was a consistent thread through his career, as seen by the success of his one-man show (and subsequent DVD) Robin Williams: Live on Broadway (2002). He was voted 13th on Comedy Central's list "100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time" in 2004. Williams and Billy Crystal were in an unscripted cameo at the beginning of an episode of the third season of Friends. His many TV appearances included an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and he starred in an episode of Law and Order: SVU. In 2010, he appeared in a sketch with Robert De Niro on Saturday Night Live, and in 2012, guest-starred as himself in two FX series, Louie and Wilfred. In May 2013, CBS started a new series, The Crazy Ones, starring Williams, but the show was canceled after one season.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1979
    Age 27
    Williams was also on the cover of the August 23, 1979, issue of Rolling Stone magazine, with the cover photograph taken by famed photographer Richard Avedon.
    More Details Hide Details Starting in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Williams began to reach a wider audience with his stand-up comedy, including three HBO comedy specials, Off The Wall (1978), An Evening with Robin Williams (1982) and Robin Williams: Live at the Met (1986).
    Mork became an extremely popular character, featured on posters, coloring books, lunch-boxes, and other merchandise. Mork & Mindy was such a success in its first season that Williams appeared on the March 12, 1979, cover of Time magazine, then the leading news magazine in the U.S. The cover photo, taken by Michael Dressler in 1979, is said to have "captured his different sides: the funnyman mugging for the camera, and a sweet, more thoughtful pose that appears on a small TV he holds in his hands" according to Mary Forgione of the Los Angeles Times.
    More Details Hide Details This photo was installed in the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian Institution shortly after the actor's death to allow visitors to pay their respects.
    Williams won a Grammy Award for the recording of his 1979 live show at the Copacabana in New York, "Reality What a Concept".
    More Details Hide Details Some of his later tours, after he became a TV and film star, include An Evening With Robin Williams (1982), Robin Williams: At The Met (1986) and Robin Williams Live on Broadway (2002). The latter broke many long-held records for a comedy show. In some cases, tickets were sold out within thirty minutes of going on sale. In 1986, Williams released A Night at the Met. After a six-year break, in August 2008, Williams announced a new 26-city tour titled "Weapons of Self-Destruction". He said that this was his last chance to make jokes at the expense of the Bush administration, but by the time the show was staged, only a few minutes covered that subject. The tour started at the end of September 2009 and concluded in New York on December 3, and was the subject of an HBO special on December 8, 2009.
  • 1978
    Age 26
    Williams married his first wife Valerie Velardi in June 1978, following a live-in relationship with comedian Elayne Boosler.
    More Details Hide Details Velardi and Williams met in 1976 while he was working as a bartender at a tavern in San Francisco. Their son Zachary Pym "Zak" Williams was born in 1983.
    After the Laugh-In revival and appearing in the cast of The Richard Pryor Show on NBC, Williams was cast by Garry Marshall as the alien Mork in a 1978 episode of the hit TV series Happy Days.
    More Details Hide Details Williams impressed the producer with his quirky sense of humor when he sat on his head when asked to take a seat for the audition. As Mork, Williams improvised much of his dialogue and physical comedy, speaking in a high, nasal voice. Mork's appearance was so popular with viewers that it led to the spin-off hit television sitcom Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982; the show was written to accommodate his extreme improvisations in dialog and behavior. Although he portrayed the same character as in Happy Days, the series was set in the present in Boulder, Colorado instead of the late 1950s in Milwaukee. Mork & Mindy at its peak had a weekly audience of 60 million and was credited with turning Williams into a "superstar." According to critic James Poniewozik, the series was especially popular among young people as Williams became a "man and a child, buoyant, rubber-faced, an endless gusher of invention."
  • 1977
    Age 25
    The show aired in late 1977 and became his debut TV appearance.
    More Details Hide Details Williams also performed a show at the LA Improv that same year for Home Box Office. While the Laugh-In revival failed, it led Williams into a career in television, during which period he continued doing stand-up at comedy clubs, such as the Roxy, to help him keep his improvisational skills sharp. Williams has credited other comedians with having influenced and inspired him, including Jonathan Winters, Peter Sellers, Nichols and May, and Lenny Bruce. He attributed their influence to their ability to attract a more intellectual audience by using a higher level of wit. He also liked Jay Leno for his quickness in ad-libbing comedy routines, and Sid Caesar, whose acts he felt were "precious." Jonathan Winters became his "idol" early in life; Williams first saw him on television at age 8 and paid him homage in interviews throughout his career. Williams was inspired by Winters's ingenuity, realizing, he said, "that anything is possible, that anything is funny... He gave me the idea that it can be free-form, that you can go in and out of things pretty easily."
    He moved to Los Angeles and continued doing stand-up shows at various clubs, including the Comedy Club, in 1977, where TV producer George Schlatter saw him.
    More Details Hide Details Schlatter, realizing that Williams would become an important force in show business, asked him to appear on a revival of his Laugh-In show.
  • 1976
    Age 24
    Williams left Juilliard during his junior year in 1976 at the suggestion of Houseman, who said there was nothing more Juilliard could teach him.
    More Details Hide Details His teacher at Juilliard, Gerald Freedman, notes that Williams was a "genius" and that the school's conservative and classical style of training did not suit him; therefore no one was surprised that he left. After his family moved to Marin County, Williams began his career doing stand-up comedy shows in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1970s. His first performance took place at the Holy City Zoo, a comedy club in San Francisco, where he worked his way up from tending bar to getting on stage. In the 1960s, San Francisco was a center for a rock music renaissance, hippies, drugs, and a sexual revolution, and in the 1970s, Williams helped lead its "comedy renaissance," writes critic Gerald Nachman. Williams says he found out about "drugs and happiness" during that period, adding that he saw "the best brains of my time turned to mud."
  • 1973
    Age 21
    In 1973, Williams attained a full scholarship to the Juilliard School in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details He was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year; the other was Christopher Reeve. William Hurt and Mandy Patinkin were also classmates. Reeve remembered his first impression of Williams when they were two new students at Juilliard: Williams and Reeve had a class in dialects taught by Edith Skinner, who Reeve said was one of the world's leading voice and speech teachers. Skinner had no idea what to make of Williams, adds Reeve, as he Williams could instantly perform in many dialects, including Scottish, Irish, English, Russian, and Italian. Their primary acting teacher was Michael Kahn, who was "equally baffled by this human dynamo," notes Reeve. Williams already had a reputation for being funny, but Kahn sometimes criticized his antics as simple stand-up comedy. In a later production, Williams silenced his critics with his convincing role of an old man in The Night of the Iguana, by Tennessee Williams. "He simply was the old man," observed Reeve. "I was astonished by his work and very grateful that fate had thrown us together."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1969
    Age 17
    At the time of his graduation in 1969, he was voted "Most Likely Not to Succeed" and "Funniest" by his classmates.
    More Details Hide Details After high school graduation, Williams enrolled at Claremont Men's College in Claremont, California to study political science, then later dropped out to pursue acting. Williams then studied theatre for three years at the College of Marin, a community college in Kentfield, California. According to Marin drama professor James Dunn, the depth of the young actor's talent first became evident when he was cast in the musical Oliver! as Fagin. Williams was known to improvise during his time in Marin's drama program, putting cast members in hysterics. Dunn called his wife after one late rehearsal to tell her that Williams "was going to be something special."
  • 1963
    Age 11
    In late 1963, when Williams was twelve, his father was transferred to Detroit.
    More Details Hide Details They lived in a 40-room farmhouse on 20 acres in suburban Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he was a student at the private Detroit Country Day School. He excelled in school, where he was on the school's soccer team and wrestling team, and became class president. As his father was away much of the time and his mother also worked, he was attended to by the family's maid, who was his main companion. When Williams was 16, his father took early retirement and the family moved to Tiburon, California. Following the move, Williams attended Redwood High School in nearby Larkspur.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1951
    Born
    Robin McLaurin Williams was born at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, Illinois on July 21, 1951.
    More Details Hide Details His father Robert Fitzgerald Williams (1906-1987) was a senior executive in Ford Motor Company's Lincoln-Mercury Division. His mother Laurie McLaurin (1922-2001) was a former model from Jackson, Mississippi; her great-grandfather was Mississippi senator and governor Anselm J. McLaurin. Williams had two elder half-brothers named Robert and McLaurin. He had English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, German, and French ancestry. While his mother was a practitioner of Christian Science, Williams was raised as an Episcopalian and later authored a comedic list, "Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian." During a TV interview on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001, he credited his mother as being an important early influence for his sense of humor, noting also that he tried to make her laugh to gain attention. Williams attended public elementary school at Gorton Elementary School (now Gorton Community Center) and middle school at Deer Path Junior High School (now Deer Path Middle School), both in Lake Forest, Illinois. He described himself as a quiet and shy child who did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high school drama department. His friends recall him as being very funny.
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